Heat pumps are often covered by snow during the winter months. The pump may not work efficiently when its coil is covered by white frost or ice. When the entire unit is iced-up during the winter season, it may seriously damage the unit and reduce its life expectancy. You need to address this issue without delay in order to prevent such a situation and prolong the lifespan of the heat pump.

Even though heat pumps ice-up naturally during low temperatures, it would have a defrost mode from time to time in order to de-ice its coils and keep running efficiently. When the ice blocks the coil of a heat pump, heat exchange between the refrigerant and the outside air can’t occur. Here are some easy strategies to defrost a heat pump manually and keep it running efficiently.

How Does The Defrost Cycle In The Heat Pump Work?

When the system freezes, the reversing valve of the system becomes energised and switches the entire system into the air conditioner mode. The outdoor evaporator of the system will become the condenser and the fan shuts off when this happens. This process will allow the refrigerant to circulate through the outdoor coil and melt the ice. Back-up heat is generated at the same time to counter the cold air that is blowing out from the vents.

Once the outdoor sensor or thermostat reaches a specific temperature, the system will go back to the usual heating mode. The entire process will last only between 2 to 10 minutes – depending on the type of equipment. In fact, different heat systems have different methods of determining when to go to the defrost mode. The latest heat pumps operate based on control modules with solid temperature sensors.

If your heat pump ice-up quite often during the winter months, there may be other issues other than defrosting. Some of the issues that affect the pump could be fixed by the homeowner while some other issues may need professional assistance. There are some steps that you need to take in order to defrost the pump. But if the heat pump requires any repairs, it should be done only by a licensed professional in the industry. Never pick ice off with a hard object. It can cause serious damage to the fins and refrigerant coils.

The first step is to understand the problem. Whenever frost occurs, especially during the winter months, the heat pump can ice up. Most of the heat systems work according to a defrost system that is temperature based. This is important to prevent excessive deposition of ice. The system will usually run on an electronic timer. The intervals are differently set depending on the brand and model of the heat pump. The common settings are 30, 60 or 90 minutes.

How To Manually Defrost The Heat Pump?

The best way to start the process is to operate the fan. Blowing air will thaw the heat pump within 60 minutes. When the outside temperature is quite low, you should set up the fan on an exhaust setting. Constant fan operation won’t solve the problem. But running the fan is a good way to start the defrosting process and keep the equipment running efficiently.

When frost occurs, the heat pump needs to run longer to eliminate the ice. Moving the thermostat on the outside portion of the unit can help resolve this problem. You should mark the original position of the sensor in case you decide to try this option. That way you can adequately replace it later on. If the heat pump has a defrost option, you should run it every time the outside temperature becomes low. The defrost mode and power-saving setting doesn’t go hand in hand. In case the defrost cycle is very short, it will result in freezing and many other troubles for the homeowner. The best way to improve the efficiency of the heat pump is to set up the system as close as possible to the manufacturer’s specifications. That way you will save money and improve the lifespan of the heat pump in the long run.

Heat pumps ice-up naturally during winter months. The aforementioned article provides information on how to defrost a heat pump manually.